4 days cycling, 681km
Super exciting stages which are designed to provide fireworks for the pro race, but which give us amateurs an enjoyable, challenging and hugely rewarding Tour de France experience
Our Alps Loop is not strictly Alpine this year so as to incorporate Mt Ventoux into this very special trip to France: Two stunning and sensibly distanced Alpine stages, a rest day in Tignes (what’s not to love), a descent out of the mountains and then the Mt Ventoux spectacular!
Over four stages and a rest day, you’ll have time for the quiet, beautiful, peaceful climbs, the joy of perfect tarmac far away from the crowds, the fun of cycling somewhere known mostly for skiing, and some bucket list action to dine out on for years.
We’ll drive your bike there and back, we’ll feed you proper meals, we’ll make you proper coffee after 80km and thanks to the Tour, we’ll guarantee you some of the best cycling on the globe.
Fri 10th September: Meet at Oyonnax hotel (we’re organising a coach transfer from Geneva airport – see travel info)
Thur 16th September: Depart from hotel in Bollene (after Ventoux) (we’re organising a coach transfer to Marseille and Nice airports – see travel info)
Arrival day: Fri 10th September
Arrival to Oyonnax hotel by 7pm. (A coach transfer from Geneva airport to Oyonnax is included in this Loop. See the travel advice link for details).
Start (Alps Loop): Oyonnax hotel
Finish: Le Grand Bornand hotel
Stage 8: Oyonnax to Grand-Bornand. 151km. Sat 11th September
Today we meet the mountains. The climbing will begin immediately as we leave Oyonnax, with a detour into the Jura mountain range via the Forêt d’Échallon. We’ll dip down to cross the River Rhône, and continue through the hills to Bonneville, watching the Alps grow larger and larger on the horizon. Our first big climb is the Côte de Mont-Saxonnex, which winds its way among the chalets and forests above Cluses. It’s nowhere near as high the Colombière, but its 8.3% average gradient will give a hint of what’s to come. The Col de Romme is a classic Alpine climb, with ringing cowbells and views of the surrounding peaks, and the Col de la Colombière is a psychological challenge as much as a physical one – you can see the gîte at the top from a long way down the road and the views will make it all worthwhile. The descent to Grand-Bornand is a fun one, with it’s swooping hairpins, magnificent views, and a mural of Bernard Hinault partway down to remind you that you are now also part of Le Tour.
Lite option: You get a lift to the first feed stop in Frangy at 45km. This means a stage of little over 100km and a bit more energy to tackle those last three climbs of the day.
Start: short transfer to Cluses
Finish: Tignes hotel
Stage 9: Cluses to Tignes . 145km. Sun 12th September
Taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in this region of the Alps, today’s route starts off by rolling up the valley from Cluses, then the short sharp Côte de Domancy will awaken our legs, taking us up to the fancy ski resort of Megève. We’ll keep most of the height we’ve gained, following the River Arly until Crest-Voland, when we’ll encounter the Col des Saisies – 10km of gentler gradients, through Alpine meadows, overlooked by the jagged peaks we’ll be getting a closer look at later on. We’ll descend into pretty Beaufort (home of excellent cheese), and then take on the Col du Pré, a steeper, trickier climb, that may feel like the toughest of the day. Our reward is the stunning Lac de Roselend – we’ll ride straight across its dam, admire the stone chapel at its far end, and then gaze back over it as the road continues to climb towards the Cormet de Roselend. From here it’s a twisting technical descent to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, and then a long, steady climb up to Tignes, where we have a rest day to look forward to. This might only be 145km but it includes over 4400m of climbing; refer back to the first sentence for the scenic reward!
Start: short transfer to Cluses
Finish: Tignes hotel
REST DAY 1. Mon 13th September
Two nights in the same hotel. Deluxe!
Stage 10: Albertville to Valence. 186km. Tues 14th September
Today’s route is a feast for the eyes, as it’ll take us past a series of spectacular mountains that we don’t have to climb! We’ll spin through the flat Isère Valley, then head through to Chambery between the rocky buttresses of the Bauges and Chartreuse massifs – where we may spot paragliders if the weather’s clear. We’ll then head south, encountering some smaller climbs en route, and watching the landscape open out before us as we approach the fertile Rhône Valley. There’s a net descent over the day but it’ll feel more like a pleasant tail wind than a freewheel. Transitional stages like this are really rewarding to ride – by the end of the day it’ll be hard to remember that we woke up in the mountains.
Start: Transfer to Albertville
Finish: Transfer to Sorgues
Stage 11: Sorgues to Malaucène. 199km. Wed 15th September
There’ll only be one mountain on most people’s minds today, but this is a long stage, and first we have to navigate a bumpy parcour that’s challenging in its own right. This part of the world is blissful in July though, and despite the heat and the hills you’ll appreciate the sounds and scents of the Provençale summer – the whirring crickets, the orchards and vineyards, and the tiny stone villages, with their tiled rooftops and overflowing gardens. Our first ascent of Ventoux is from the easier Sault side, but before that we have to get over the Col de la Liguière – around 10km of fairly steep ramps, taking us from the fertile lowlands around Apt to a higher landscape of parched soil and pine needles. From lavender-scented Sault we’ll begin our first ascent of the Géant de Provence, spending around an hour climbing through pine forests, before we reach the wind-blasted scree slopes for which this mountain is famous. From the summit we’ll whip down to Malaucène, before turning back south, and heading over to Bédoin to tackle Ventoux’s most famous climb. This is likely to be the hardest day of the Tour for many, but the elation of summiting this legendary climb always makes up for the hardship of the ascent, and the final triumphant descent back to Malaucéne will have you singing at the top of your voice.
Start: Sorgues hotel
Finish: Dinner in Malaucene before a transfer to Bollene
Departure Day: Thur 16th September
Departure from Bollene hotel after breakfast (a transfer to Marseille or Nice airports is included in this Loop. See Travel Advice page for details).
Due 18th April
Due 16th June
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end July
Emily, Lead Cyclist:
“Chapeau to everyone who takes this on. You have to be prepared for some tough days here but presumably that’s why you’re thinking about it! Just make sure you read my training blogs each month!”
Sarah, Event Organiser:
“The cycling will be pretty tough but we’ll get you there. Our feedstops (with access to day bags) will be every 30-40km so you just break the day down into manageable sections. The friends and laughs will be as much the memories as the cycling”
Marianne, Alumni Cyclist:
“This is so much more than one Etape du Tour; this is a way to get to know France, and the Tour de France, better. If you want to race up the mountains, you won’t be the only one on strava – but I really enjoyed the mix: going for it up some of the big name climbs and chilling out and chatting up others.”
Le Loop is known for its camaraderie and inclusiveness and we strongly believe that there’s a Loop for everyone. We have no cut off times and cyclists will always be supported as far as safety and daylight hours allow. However, there is a speed and a level of training required for some of the longer Loops and the Grand Loop because we have limited space in our support vehicles and this event is not designed for cyclists who cannot complete full stages (Click here for e-bike and non-standard bike info).
We need to be clear about how tough the Tour can be in order to help you pick the right challenge…
The Grand Loop…
You should be able to complete 200km stages with 2500m of climbing in under 10hrs (including stops). Assuming a total of 90 mins stopping, this equates to an average cycling speed of 23.5 km/h (14 m/h) or faster, day after day over relatively hilly terrain.
On a mountain stage of 180km with 4500m of climbing, we expect Grand Loopers to take between 8 and 12 hours, including stops. Assuming a total of 90 mins stopping, this equates to an average cycling speed of 17km/h (10.5 m/h) or faster.
If in any doubt, please get in touch to discuss. Or consider joining us for a shorter Loop with a view to completing the Grand Loop once you have tested yourself over 3 to 5 stages.
Whilst we have back up vehicles for injured or exhausted cyclists, this is intended as just that: a back-up plan should something go wrong. If there is a reason why you cannot complete one or two stages (injury, illness, one-off extreme fatigue), we will of course help you and offer you space in a support vehicle. But if you are not able to cycle full stages without medical or equivalent reason, we will have to ask you to take public transport or find alternative arrangements to travel between stage starts and finishes.
If in doubt, please see below for our more manageable Loop options and use that as training for the Grand Loop at some point in the future.
As with the Grand Loop, these Loops are extremely testing. You should be able to complete full stages which will sometimes involve over 10hrs cycling and we would not expect you to need to take the Lite options in the Alps or Pyrenees.
For advice on average speeds, please see the guidelines above for the Grand Loop.
Alps, Pyrenees, Alps Lite, Pyrnees Lite…
The Tour de France mountain stages are extremely tough and completing back to back mountain stages is something that requires commitment and training. However, we are not all equal: in time available, experience, natural ability or desire for the toughest challenge. Which is why we have our Lite options…
If you sign up for the Alps or Pyrenees, you will be given the option to cycle the full stage or the shortened, ‘lite’ version. We usually take numbers the night before, giving you plenty of flexibility should you wish to go long or short.
Please, please avoid the temptation to view the Lite options as a weaker challenge: they are not! The extra transfers or short-cuts serve simply to open up the Tour de France to more people, encourage more diverse groups to join us, or offer an alternative to people who would like a really great day of Tour riding, rather than an overly-epic day which leaves them broken.
As a rough guide, a cyclist who can complete an undulating 100 km sportive in 5hrs or less in March and a hilly 100 km sportive in 5hrs or less in late April/early May will be well placed to join us in France.
Middle Mountains, Grand Depart…
The variety of the Tour de France route each year means that there can be quite a variation in the difficulty and length of stage within these options. Please see the Loop descriptions for more information and get in touch if in any doubt about your ability to take part.
Often the Mountains Lite Loops can be more manageable than the longer stages involved in other Loops. And sometimes morning transfers, hotel changes and other logistical variations can affect how difficult a Loop feels. So don’t be put off by the climbing involved in the mountains – with training and commitment, we believe that there really is a Loop for everyone and we’re always happy to discuss your options with you.
Included in all Loops
- Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy once you\'re signed up)
- Food (3 meals and the best feedstops you’ve ever seen)
- Fully signed route, the stuff of legend
- Mechanical, medical and moral support
- Luggage Transfers
- Coach transfers to the next stage start where applicable
Not included in all Loops
- Travel to and from France (but we’ll give you advice on the best travel routes)
- Bike Transport (£30 each way if you want us to drive your bike there and back)
- Evening massage (£10 per massage)
- Beer/wine/dinner drinks!